By Michael Fleming
NEW YORK (Variety) - Jennifer Lopez, who launched her star playing one Latina icon in
"Selena," is poised to play another -- Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
Lopez is circling a Kahlo biopic that Luis Valdez will direct from his own script, with
Francis Ford Coppola executive producing for United Artists, MGM's newly relaunched
arthouse banner. No deal has been made, but sources said the plan is for Lopez to make
the movie in early 2001.
That puts Lopez in close brush with a Miramax film about the painter, which has Salma
Hayek starring, from a script most recently drafted by Rodrigo Garcia ("Things You Can
Tell Just By Looking At Her"). Though Miramax would not confirm it, sources say the
studio is in serious talks with director Andrucha Waddington, who most recently helmed
the Cannes hit "Me, You, Them," and was first assistant director on "Central Station" for
Walter Salles, the helmer who would have directed Hayek in the Frida film had he not
been obligated to helm another for that picture's producer, Arthur Cohn.
Neither United Artists nor Coppola's Zoetrope had much to say about its Kahlo picture.
The understanding is that Valdez, whose films include "La Bamba" and "Zoot Suit,"
worked from the book "The Two Fridas." The filmmaker has been trying for a decade to
bring the painter to the big screen. He nearly got there back in 1991, only to see Kahlo get
KO'd by New Line after protests ensued when the role went to a non-Latina, Laura San
Giacomo. Madonna also was once deemed a probable for the role, but got the same
Neither Lopez nor Hayek has that problem, but while both would likely work below
market price, the competitive situation raises the obvious question: like Kahlo's paintings,
will one end up on the canvas?
Lopez, who opens this week in the New Line thriller "The Cell," follows with a comic turn
alongside Matthew McConaughey in "The Wedding Planner" and stars in the drama "Angel